Thursday, May 20, 2010

Be There. Aloha.

I'm looking forward to CBS's upcoming revival of Hawaii Five-0.

But I'm not sure why.

Sure, the iconic original was one of my favorite cop shows as a kid. But that alone might be good reason for me to plan to avoid the remake. After all, how often do these things really turn out to be better than the original?

For that matter, how often does the original turn out to be less than what one remembered, upon later viewing? I certainly felt that way when Barney Miller, one of my favorites from the 1980s, turned up on TV Land some years back: Didn't it used to be...better? However, when Five-0 debuted on whatever incarnation of CBN might have been in existence at the time (to much fanfare, which made its sudden and unannounced disappearance from the schedule mere weeks later a bit odd), I found it just as enjoyable as I'd recalled.

Again, maybe a reason to avoid it. But I won't.

Today's unveiling of the revival's title credits give one some feeling of hope. I'm not that wild about the "tech" aspect, either visually or melodically, and it's a shame that, in keeping with the dictates of this age, the unforgettable Morton Steven's theme has been shamefully truncated; but at least it's the proper theme music. And the fact that the creative team seems hip enough to make a few hat-tips to the original, (here comes that word again) iconic opening is another good sign that they respect the original material. Witness ye:

That original opening has got to be one of the best ever created. The matching of visuals to music is as close to perfect as anyone's ever come. There's not a shot out of place.

One wonders, though, to what extent the original series' success was owed to Jack Lord. Could anyone else have carried the series the way he did? Even when the original cast had departed, even after the series had passed its prime, there was Lord as McGarrett, still barking out orders and taking no guff. It's near impossible for me to imagine anyone else in the role. We'll see how Alex O'Loughlin does as McGarrett. I'm unfamiliar with his work.

There is undoubtedly a danger associated with recasting these parts. The safer route would have been to go with a "next generation" team instead of the familiar group. But would it then be Hawaii Five-0? A failed attempt to revive the series in 1997 seemed to take that tack--with Gary Busey as Jimmy Berk and no McGarrett in sight. James MacArthur, Kam Fong, and Harry Endo did reprise their roles as Danny WIlliams (now the governor), Chin Ho, and Che Fong, respectively...never mind that Chin Ho had been killed off in the original series. Maybe that's one of the reasons that, as previously indicated, this was a failedattempt.

(Aside: In college I was friends with a kid who was Kam Fong's nephew or great-nephew. Also I was friends with a girl whose mother worked in a big Honolulu hotel, and who (the mom) could be seen briefly behind the front desk in a scene shot in the lobby. I was friends with a great many kids from the islands, who for some reason had been lured away to attend college in Omaha, Nebraska. We would make a point of watching the show whenever we could, and my Hawaiian friends would helpfully point out all of the geographical mistakes.)

One alteration: In the upcoming series, Kono Kalakaua is now Kona Kalakaua, and is played by Grace Park, late of Battlestar Galactica. I suppose if the BSG reboot could recast Starbuck as a woman, the Five-0 revival can do likewise with Kono/Kona.

As is so often the case, time will have to be the final arbiter of whether the new venture is worthwhile. I recall that I anticipated Dick Wolf's update of Dragnet a few seasons back, and was sorely disappointed with everything except Ed O'Neill as Joe Friday and Mike Post's update of the original theme. But I semi-dreaded the revival of Doctor Who, which I soon discovered I like at least as well as the original. I guess that's the sort of thing that keeps us tuning in.

Some links:

    The new series' intro is here.

No comments: